Quantum Computing for Beginners

A class for quantum enthusiasts

The future graphic textbook: “Quantum Computing for Beginners”

Now that the class is over, you may have noticed that I never actually finished my story of how Richard Feynman and Alan Turing meet, and together with your help defeat the Nazis using quantum computing. Fret not, I still plan to complete this project, but after I finish my thesis and graduate.

I would like to combine elements of a graphic novel with a traditional textbook, inspired by things like Logicomix, the Feynman graphic novel, Larry Gonick’s cartoon guides, Scott McCloud’s comic book about comics. Maybe I’ll do a kickstarter, maybe I’ll self-publish.

If you would like to receive an e-mail reminder of when this happens, you can follow this blog, or sign up for this mailing list. Don’t worry, I promise not to spam you or give out your personal information. I hate spam as much as the next person, so updates will be very, very infrequent.

Final class meeting

Here are the slides for the final lecture, where we graded Chapter 7 problems and discussed how to encode NP-complete optimization problems onto a D-Wave architecture, as well as designing a cryptosystem around any such problem.

I’d like to gratefully acknowledge the following people:

  • my students for their effort and creativity this quarter
  • Stephen Rice for his illustrations
  • anyone who sent me support and feedback over Facebook, Twitter, and email, especially Ryan Bowler, Blake Stacey, and Dave Bacon
  • my advisor Aram Harrow and the quantum theory group at UW

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to finish the historical narrative that went along with the course material.

However, I intend to keep developing this class, and I’d like to offer improved versions in the future. I hope you enjoyed following along as much as I enjoyed teaching the class. Happy holidays!

Chapter 7 public release

Final problems related to Shor’s factoring algorithm, physical qubit experiments, and the D-Wave developer kit. Solutions are also available.

Lecture notes on quantum machine learning and D-Wave

Here are the slides from class on Tuesday, December 4th, on the connection between quantum computing and machine learning via the quantum annealing algorithm, and also a little bit about the D-Wave architecture.

Chapter 6 public release

Chapter 6 is now publicly available, in which Elina develops quantum circuit notation. This is meant to replace Chapter 4-and-a-half, which was written at a different level than the rest of the chapters.

Chapter 5 public release

Chapter 5 is now publicly available, in which Lise Meitner teaches you about the double-slit experiment and measurement.

Illustrations by Stephen Rice, including the awesome chibi version of Dirac, Pauli, and Heisenberg as the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.

Chapter 4 public release

Chapter 4 is now publicly available, in which Wolfgang Pauli teaches you about quantum gates, adjoints, and tensor products of unitary matrices.

Illustration by Stephen Rice.

Shor’s factoring algorithm lecture

Here are the slides from my Shor’s factoring algorithm lecture.

Many facts about number theory must be taken for granted for so short a presentation, unfortunately, but in future versions I would like to present more intuition for the Chinese Remainder Theorem.

Syllabus and course calendar updated

We’ve reached the (more than) halfway point of the class. Congratulations on making it this far!

Since I am making up this class as we go along, now is a great time to update the syllabus, summarize where we’ve been, and highlight where we are going.

Unfortunately we don’t have time to cover some topics I originally wanted to talk about (like quantum error correction), but in exchange, I think we’ve gotten a good grounding in the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. The remainder of the class will focus on getting to the famous Shor’s factoring algorithm, and then we’ll switch tracks to prepare for programming and understanding the D-Wave One machine. To keep a reasonable pace, I won’t be able to satisfy everyone’s curiosity about the topics we introduce, but in the last class I will tell you about various opportunities to learn more about quantum computing in the future.

“Chapter 4.5” reading: quantum circuits, entanglement, teleportation, superdense coding

I hope you had a Happy Halloween! Since I was sick last week, I instead assigned a reading, the so-called “Chapter 4.5”, cobbled together from Dave Bacon’s notes on quantum circuits, entanglement, teleportation, and superdense coding. Understanding it will use the concept of measurement, which we discussed in lecture this past Tuesday. It really is an appropriate theme, since Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” In a sense, quantum spookiness haunted him and Max Planck all their lives, like a ghost. Okay, I’m stretching here.

There was no new homework. Instead, your homework will just be catching up on all old homework up to Chapter 4, including the problems that require you to post in the Catalyst message board.

These are Dave’s excellent, original lecture notes from winter 2006. You can read the full versions here, if you are curious:

You’ll need these in future assignments, which will involve drawing quantum circuits and understanding entanglement.